Case study| Ironhack Barcelona| 6th week of classes

Project Brief

For this project I imagine that I am working for a new startup and we are looking to launch a as a (SaaS) desktop app for companies to use internally. MVP should be about HR related needs of companies with more than 8–10 employees.

Setup: individual project, 6 class days.

My goal

Out of all HR suggested categories, ranging from timekeeping to professional development, I have identified areas of interest from my background and considered stories of my friends — onboarding process and professional development. But I am not my user.

Interviews and Synthesizing

To figure out real need of companies, I’ve talked to real companies. They are:

  • 3 startups in Astana, Kazakhstan — 8–15 employees
  • 1 startup in Berlin, Germany — 10 employees + 40 rest of the world
  • 1 company in Barcelona, Spain — over 100 employees

Interviews shifted from generative questions about all categories to more specific. As a result, I decided to stick to the communication problem, that might be a root cause of other problems.
Mainly, communication problem was divided into 2 major categories — workflow, or project management, and team bonding.

Workflow miscommunication happens even if they use special services like Asana, Trello, Slack. Issues related to project flow — responsibilities, updates on project, deliverables and communication about the project itself.

As there are lots of services dedicated to project and workflow management, I decided to figure out how might I can help companies to improve face-to-face interaction.

Team building category

In team bonding category you can see cases and quotes where employees believe that the initial problem is lack of team building. Only one company has serious attitude to team building events and hold events on a regular basis. Specifically, they run different distances, play games, have lunch sessions, 1-on-1s, gather all together with other branches once in a year. This is an opinion of employee of the company:

“Even if I am totally antisocial person, I think it helped me a lot! Especially, in initial stages, when people are absolutely different and backgrounds are divergent, when you do not know how to approach a colleague on a particular issue”.

This helped me to prove once again that companies should take team buildings seriously!

Research revealed that, two out of 3 startups in Astana do not have HR department. As they are startups, one of the main arguments is that companies do not have enough resources.

“We usually gather only on holidays, last time we gathered to celebrate New Year. Each attempt to get together is failing”

“For the time of 10 months we did not have even beers after work day”

“I wish we could have more events and socialize more, I know cases when people even got married because of team building!”

There was the case when CEO was quite suspicious about the effectiveness and meaning of team building events:

“I don’t think that team building makes that much difference on performance, what is the point hanging out after work and feel terrible in the other day? 

Which might mean that there is little awareness and scepticism about types and benefits of team building in a company. According to majority, “beers” is the most common type of team building, which is sad.

Here are several words from Harvard Business Review to support team building and explain why companies should take it seriously:

“We’ve learned, for example, that face-to-face interactions are by far the most important activity in an office”

“Managers (…) thought they could promote better communication among employees by hosting “beer meets”. But the badge data showed that these events had little or no effect. In contrast, the data revealed that making the tables in the company’s lunchroom longer, so that strangers sat together, had a huge impact

The HR representative that I interviewed says: “Of course communication matters, especially in current world. It depends if the company has top-down management or down-top managements. In the second case communication is everything in the company”. I decided to focus on companies with down top management as, in the initial steps of my platform, it would make a bigger impact and would be easier to sell to them as they feel the need for it.

Meet my user personas and problem statement:

User personas

Startup employees need a quick way of planning events and gathering together because they are sure that it affects the mood and communication in the company.


As a direct competitor there is a BattleJungle — where there is a bank of ideas for team building and Jostle is the tool for big corporations to keep in touch with between employees.

BattleJungle is ideal tool for team building but it is not used internally, there is no way to see the event on personal calendar and the company organizational chart.
Jostle is ideal tool for people engagement in general, the tool looks like representation of workspace in digital format. The bank of ideas for team building is missing.


In order to understand the value and impact of the app here I performed task analysis (how people currently accomplish their goal) and use case (how the task might look like with this app).

Task analysis
How do people currently organize events? These tasks are real cases from interviewees.

Sad end: Once during the lunchtime, a group of colleagues started talking about team building, as the last was during March holidays. They suggested other colleagues in WhatsApp chat to get together somewhere and sometime. So, everything is uncertain, it lasts until this moment and it did not happen yet.
Observation: people are failing the cognitive part of task analysis, where they are supposed to brainstorm, think and finalize the decision about an event.
Happy end: CEO of small agile startup has a strong belief that by solving complex problems as a team both company and employees will make profit out of it. So, he decides to launch series of monthly pitch presentations by giving teams tasks about improving the company (in all aspects).

Use cases
An employee decides to suggest an idea for team building, as their manager in the company does not have enough time to do it because of physical absence in office. So, she uses this app to search for an idea on type of event, and suggests to her department colleagues. They are, in turn, are welcome to accept or decline the invitation. Once they accept it, it automatically goes to the calendar.
Therefore, I decided to focus my MVP on solving this main issue which will show in the main flow that I built in my prototype.

Ideation + Paper prototype

As it is team building events planning platform, I decided to make calendar as Home, so that employee can see events hapenning soon. Chart includes all people in the company and organizational chart, which might be helpful for new employees to get acquainted with team members, Social is about event ideas and suggestions (incoming and outgoing).

Calendar and Chart

Idea section implies given list of ideas by the app, where users can search for specific type of activity by applying filters in category, tags and details. In Suggestions, user can check his/her suggested ideas or create new idea and send a poll to arrange suitable time/place for everyone.

Ideas screen

Usability testing

At first, during usability testing I identified that wording is the fist thing I need to put in place — chart, social were not clear for users. Secondly, user wanted to create his own idea within the Idea tab, since he could not find what he need, so I considered adding an idea within this tab. Since the database of events is not created yet, I decided to stop on assigning time and place instead of creating detailed poll for voting, I considered it as a future work.

Style tile

Style tile and logo

I decided to name my app Platoon, according to Oxford dictionary it is a group of people acting together and parachute is one of the equipments used in military reminds the form of light bulb which represents a new idea.
For color palette I decided to choose calming variations of neutral color so that the user won’t be distracted much from the content and color codes for events and yellow represents a lightbulb.

Prototype evolution

In terms of layout, I rearranged the screen to avoid lots of white space in home screen, as a result user pays equal attention to calendar and events list.

Mid-Fi and Hi-Fi screens

Click here to see high fidelity protoype and go through the user flow:

User flow

Future Roadmap

As there is always a room for improvement, I consider the future roadmap based on my research and feedback received:

  • 3 months: poll before suggesting, to consider everyone’s opinion and for more detailed events; personalized list of people — was revealed during usability testing.
  • 6 months — discussion chat about ideas and suggestions.

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